Infrared Sauna Side Effects or Risks?

Information on infrared sauna side effects is hard to come by. People make money selling these devices (just like any other consumer product), so there tends to be a lot more positive, promotional information available than negative. And of course there is a lot to like about infrared saunas.

This though is a site that feels it important to provide a balanced picture. So I've searched the literature in an effort to find out whether there are any infrared sauna side effects or risk. The results of my research have actually made me feel better about infrared saunas.

For that reason, I encourage you to do your own research! I believe it'll provide you a lot of comfort regarding these amazing devices.

The American Journal of Medicine

In February, 2001, this prestigious medical journal published an article by Doctors Minna L. Hannuskela and Samer Ellahham, a specialist in Internal Medicine (in Finland) and a Cardiologist (in Washington, D.C.) respectively.

The article, "Benefits and Risks of Sauna Bathing," found numerous distinct benefits and only some minor risks (mostly specific to particular subgroups of people).

It noted that sauna causes various hormonal and cardiovascular changes.

(No surprise--these changes tend to be beneficial. If sauna didn't do anything, why even bother with it?)

An abstract of the article states specifically:

"[Sauna] is well tolerated by most healthy adults and children."

However, the article does express these specific concerns:

  • "sweating may increase itching in patients with atopic dermatitis."
  • "alcohol consumption during sauna bathing increases the risk of hypotension, arrhythmia, and sudden death, and should be avoided."

The article also states that those with the following cardiac and cardiovascular conditions should avoid sauna:

  • unstable angina pectoris (chest pain associated with how the lungs absorb oxygen)
  • recent myocardial infarction (that is, a recent heart attack)
  • severe aortic stenosis (severe narrowing or obstruction of the aortic valve in the heart)

Also, the article states that sauna is safe "during the uncomplicated pregnancies of healthy women." Clearly, an unhealthy pregnant woman or a woman experiencing a complicated pregnancy should exercise caution.

It should also be noted that the article studied the effects of sauna in general and not infrared sauna side effects in particular. Since infrared sauna actually heats tissue below the skin's surface, its benefits are increased, but it may also be that what risks there are become more pronounced.

It is always recommended that you consult with your doctor before using any such device. Serious infrared sauna side effects seem rare, but certain people should clearly practice caution.

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